The portion of Americans living in multigenerational homes has continued to rise in recent years, and the trend “shows no sign of peaking” according to the Pew Research Center.
A new analysis published in March indicates nearly a third of young adults ages 25 to 29 live in multigenerational households, often in their parents’ home. Young men are more often living in multigenerational households — 37% of young men in this age group compared with 26% of young women report living in a multigenerational household.
Living at home can be a practical decision made for financial struggles, health issues, caregiving responsibilities or other considerations. It can also be an emotional choice, with most adults reporting it is mostly or always rewarding to live in a multigenerational home.
However, living at home can also be a cause of stress. If finances are what’s keeping you at home, follow these steps to manage your money and move out of your parents’ home:
1. Address any mental barriers.
2. Build an emergency fund.
3. Check your credit score.
4. Create a budget.
5. Account for commonly overlooked costs.
6. Make a plan for debt repayment.
7. Talk with your parents.
Address Any Mental Barriers
The comforts of home call to us all from time to time, but some young adults might find themselves sticking around for reasons that aren’t just financial. After a traumatizing year marked by a public health crisis and economic downturn, it makes sense to seek the safety and familiarity of home.
“There’s a lot of psychology involved and behaviors that need to be addressed before someone can be ready to move out,” says Brendan Sheehan, managing director and owner of Waymark Wealth Management in Massachusetts. “If they’re not being charged rent, paying for the utilities, the groceries, they’ve got their parents cooking for them and doing laundry for them, it’s not very appealing to leave the house.”
If you’re ready to take the next step, start by considering what psychological barriers might be stopping you and seek help from friends, family or even a professional counselor to work through those things.
Build an Emergency Fund
Start building up your savings in the early stages of moving out. The last thing you want once you do successfully move out of your parents’ home is to end up moving back after facing an unexpected expense.
“Once you come up with those goals, quantify what they entail,” Sheehan says. “If the goal is to find housing, build up a down payment to reach that 20% or come up with your regular six- to 12-month emergency fund to pay for the rent and a security deposit,” he says. “Don’t be stuck in neutral just because you’re at home.”
Living at home can be a great opportunity for young adults to build up their savings before facing a barrage of electric bills, rent payments, grocery costs, repair costs and other expenses that go along with renting or homeownership. Take advantage of this time to accumulate funds in a liquid, easily accessible savings account.
Check Your Credit Score
Whether renting or buying, a credit score check is a near-universal requirement. Those who haven’t been taking steps to build a positive credit history should start as soon as possible.
Experts say individuals preparing for a move should check their credit score before starting the housing search. If it’s low, consider measures to build up your credit, like fixing any credit report errors, and quick-fix strategies like a rapid rescore.
Create a Budget
Go back to basics with a simple budget. Determine your average monthly take-home income, then estimate expenses and research housing costs in your area. Resources like budget apps and spreadsheet templates can help.
“You can’t spend more than you make. Budgeting is not complicated, so just watch those numbers and think about cutting costs,” says Ramona Ortega, founder and CEO of My Money My Future.
Additionally, she says in the post-pandemic period, many professionals who continue to work from home may consider relocating to a lower-cost area, such as a smaller city or suburb.
Plus, don’t forget to budget for the one-time costs associated with moving. These might include a moving truck, boxes, move-in fees common at some apartment buildings, the cost of new furniture and beyond.
Account for Commonly Overlooked Costs
Experts say it’s important to remember those additional costs outside of rent or a mortgage that will pop up. Whether it’s electricity and Wi-Fi or property taxes, leave a bit of padding in your budget for these extra costs.
A budget should also include a savings plan, such as creating an emergency fund for unanticipated costs.
Make a Plan for Debt Repayment
Millennials and Gen Zers are likely to have some sort of student loan debt. This debt can delay common financial fundamentals like investing and saving, as well as moving out, but it doesn’t have to be prohibitive.
“I know people don’t want to be walking around with the heavy burden of that debt, but it’s also important to start investing and saving,” Ortega says. “The 50/20/30 budget is one we promote, so if you have 20% going to savings or paying down debt, then take 5% of that to invest and 15% to pay down your student loans.” The 50/20/30 rule is a common strategy for setting budget benchmarks that suggests individuals spend 50% of after-tax income on needs, such as rent, 30% on wants and 20% on savings.
“Everyone has to figure out their numbers — I don’t think there’s a number to fit everyone — but have a plan where a small portion of your savings go toward investing because if you let too much time go by, you will be late in the game,” Ortega says.
Another option to pay down debt might be refinancing to receive lower monthly payments, which will also require a credit score.
Talk With Your Parents
Begin communicating your plan with your family. In some cases, young adults living at home may be acting as a caregiver for family members or providing financial help, so it’s important to make a plan together.
Parents may also be able to provide support, such as offering a low-interest loan or co-signing a lease, during the period of transition from living at home to living on your own.
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Update 05/26/22: This story was published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.